A Little Olio

Mediterranean fish stew (2)Olio 2 a: a miscellaneous mixture: hodgepodge; b: a miscellaneous collection (as of literary or musical selections). Yes, it can also mean “stew.” Now that we have the definition  out of the way, let’s have a little olio.

The Power of the Social Media

Without a doubt, the most powerful tool for the dissemination of information to have come along since the beginning of time is the computer with the ubiquitous internet which links not only computers but smart phones and various and sundry other digital devices. If one wishes to learn the definition of an unfamiliar word like olio (which, by the way, I did not learn from the internet but from old fashioned crossword puzzles) to how to find out where you are anywhere on earth or how to get to where you want to go, what are the theological arguments against or support for Calvinism or Arminianism, what postmodernism is about or to find a recipe for gumbo you can find thousands or maybe even millions of “hits.”

With all that information – or misinformation as the case may be – it places upon the inquirer/reader/user a heavy responsibility to use this tool carefully and wisely. Believe it or not, not every sensational item that agrees with your thinking or that condemns the liberal, inept politician or public figure you happen to not like is true. I see lots of stuff on Facebook that automatically sends me to certain fact-checker sites to see whether these “hot-button,” supposed “facts” are indeed facts or whether they are urban myths or salacious lies. All one has to do is copy a paragraph, paste it into a search engine, hit “go” and find out what is what.

There is also a heavy responsibility upon anyone who would use this media for teaching – especially the Bible – that they be very careful to accurately teach truth and not opinion. The truth informs minds and brings people toward a knowledge of God when they perceive the truthfulness of what is being taught whereas opinion continues to separate people from God and from one another. One good thing about teaching via the electronic media – and this goes back to what we were just speaking of – the ability of people to instantly check what is taught. So if you write, do so responsibly. If you read, be like the Bereans and search the scriptures whether these things are so. There are many excellent tools for use in your Bible study available on the internet. Learn what tools are available and use them!

Friends

While we are on the subject of the social media (that is where we were, wasn’t it), I never cease to be amazed at the power and the potential for good (or for evil) this aspect of our cyber-world holds. After spending the most of my life as a preacher, speaking to small churches and sometimes wondering if anyone out there was really listening I am amazed and most gratified that I can reach an audience that potentially spans the globe and have people instantly affirm that they are reading what I say. I especially appreciate those who read my feeble efforts on a regular basis! I have a sizable friends list and I have had direct contact with people from several different countries as well as people all over the United States.

And the potential for developing personal friendships is something that has been brought home to me in very special ways also. From relationships that concern the religious matters I write about to business relationships to personal relationships, the social media can make a tremendous difference in one’s life. For me, some of these relationships initiated via the social media are conducted via chats and email, some have become regular telephone discussions and some have even become pleasant, personal, social engagements. Just a couple of days ago I drove to a nearby town and had dinner with a very nice lady who thought in my profile pic on Facebook I look lonely and wanted to know if I would like some company! Romantic? No, just two lonely people who formerly were strangers becoming good friends (I really wasn’t sad in the picture. I guess I was trying to look serious!). I treasure all my friends – new and old! We are all God’s precious children and I love getting acquainted with all of you I can! If we don’t love one another here and now what makes us think we will love and enjoy being with one another in the hereafter – forever?

Thankfulness

It is truly remarkable how many things taught in the New Testament are connected with thankfulness or thanksgiving. To realize and appreciate the fact that every good thing we receive in this life comes from God should create in us an attitude of thankfulness.

Colossians 3:15-16And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Such an attitude is indicative of and has a bearing on good relationships, chiefly between ourselves and God but also between ourselves and others. On the other hand, a lack of thankfulness very definitely contributes to or indicates a weak or failing relationship. Paul spoke in Romans 1:21 of how one of the first steps in the downfall of the Gentile nations was that although they knew God they “did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.”

Again, the same apostle admonishes two dear ladies who were having a problem getting along with one another to “rejoice” and “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6). Life is too short and too precious to have unresolved problems between ourselves and our friends. Let’s be thankful to God for our friends and let them know it as well.

About That Profile Picture on Facebook …

That is one of my old school pictures. (No, it didn’t take me that long to get out of the 5th grade!) As some of you know, I worked for years in the local school system. I was sort of a “jack of all trades” during my employment, doing everything from coaching chess to day care to some computer work to substitute teaching to working with the high school career guidance program. That picture was made in about 2005. The local elementary school always wanted a picture for the annual of everyone who worked in the school. At the time that picture was made, I was teaching kids to play chess in the time they had before going to class in the morning and then working in after school day care. I finally “graduated” in 2010. Oh, I haven’t changed too much in the eight years since that picture was made! Just a little older.

A Better Way

Had an email from my publisher, Keith Pruitt, the other day reporting that sales of “A Better Way” have picked up. I thank all of you who have bought a copy of the book. I also thank all of those local folks who have commented to me personally after reading it. Your response has been most encouraging. The things I dealt with in it are matters about which I am deeply concerned. I believe we all should want to approach the study of the Bible in the best way possible. As human beings, however, we have so easily accepted the traditional ways of study and thinking and assume there is no other way. If you haven’t read “A Better Way” I hope you will. And let me know what you think.

By the way, I just noticed that Amazon.com has reduced the price! I presume other outlets have as well. (Check out “More Buying Choices” on Amazon.com). Ah! Competition and the free enterprise system!

And speaking of Keith Pruitt and thankfulness –I am thankful to him for all the work he did in editing, formatting and publishing my book and to his wife for designing the cover. All in all you made it a beautiful book that I am proud of.

Publishing

In case you are an aspiring writer, you may be aware or have even experienced how difficult it is to get your material published if you are unknown or are a first-time author unless you have enough money to pay for printing it yourself. There has been a revolution in publishing called Indie (for independent) publishing or self publishing. Through such services you can, using a service’s tools and templates, layout and format your book, design your own cover, submit it to the service for review and be in print in a matter of a few hours to a day or two, all at little or no cost. You even decide how much your book will sell for and therefore what your royalty will be. Your book is printed, bound and shipped on demand. In other words, there are no up-front costs for printing a large number of books to then be distributed and held in stock until sold. Then of course there are eBooks which are entirely electronic. Books in this format are sold for less than printed books and with no shipping cost. All that is necessary to read an eBook is an app on your computer or an eBook reader such as Kindle, Nook, etc. I do almost all my reading on Kindle.

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